Robert Greacen

Yeats’s Image of Ireland

Representative Irish Tales

By

Colin Smythe 364pp £8.95 order from our bookshop

In 1889 the 24-year-old W B Yeats wrote in his introduction to Stories from Carleton: ‘If you would know Ireland – body and soul – you must read its poems and stories.’ He was struck by the sound of two different accents in Anglo-Irish literature: that of the gentry and that of the peasantry and near-peasantry; those who lived ‘lightly and gaily’ and those who took man’s fortunes ‘seriously’, even ‘mournfully’. In such phrases one catches hints of Yeats’s own distinctive accent.

This volume contains the Carleton introduction and Yeats’s two-volume anthology of 19th century Irish fiction, Representative Irish Tales, first published in 1891. The selection gives samples taken from Maria Edgeworth, Lover, Lever, Griffin, John and Michael Banim and others – and also tells us much about the direction in which the young Yeats was to travel.

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